Service delivery is just like the Force: We all have it in us, but some are stronger with it than others.

As the Director of Service Delivery for Untangled Solutions in California, I’ve been closely involved with the IT service delivery business since 1997, back before the days of “the cloud” or “managed services.” It was a vastly different world back then, with real live modems and without Google. My kids, who freak out when they can’t download hundreds of photos from Imgur in a second, don’t know how good they have it.

But the principles of service delivery remain similar, and one key consideration remains the same: the importance of going the extra mile. In this article, I won’t go into the bits and bytes or blinking lights of service delivery, but instead will focus on business principles that will empower you and your team for great things.

Service Delivery and the Theory of 212

I like to describe service delivery as “how we do what we do,” and I especially like to frame it through the Theory of 212, made famous by Sam Parker.

In short, the Theory of 212 is all about going the extra mile, and finds its origins in the boiling temperature of water. You can watch a pot of water at 211 degrees Fahrenheit and wait forever for it to boil, but it never will. You need that extra degree in order to make water boil. To really illustrate the importance of that one extra degree, think about a locomotive. It’ll go nowhere at 211 degrees but once you hit that one extra degree, you can boil water, create steam and make that locomotive move.

To improve service delivery, teams should always operate under the Theory of 212, baking it into their culture and making it a real tangible part of “how you do what you do.” If you did only the bare minimum, how happy would your clients be? Sure, you resolved the problem…but did you make things better for them?

Lord Baden Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts of America, made it his mantra to “leave the world better than you found it.” Think of that basic principle with the service you deliver—did you make it better, or did you just fix it? Did you go the extra mile, or did you just check the box?

Consider setting up a 212 Nomination System. When someone contributes to the betterment of your customer base or discovers new configurations for your customer’s application, nominate them for a 212 Award. During your big monthly meeting, you can award the top contributor a gift card or show your appreciation for their going the extra mile in some other way.

Going the Extra Mile

The truth is that no matter what type of MSP business we run - Support, Help Desk, Sales or Consulting - we’re all in the business of customer service, and delivering great service should be our primary focus.

Let's say you receive a call from a client who says, “I can’t zip my Excel document.” Typical call, right? Someone needs to zip a document but doesn’t know how. Do you just tell the user where to find it in Excel's menu, or do you take the extra five minutes to run a quick screencast video on the process and email it to them for safekeeping? Go the extra mile in this way, and follow up with the magic words, “Now that we’ve resolved your issue, are there other issues I can help you with?” Showing an active interest in all of your clients' service needs will increase customer satisfaction, leading to stickier customers in the end.

Consider another typical client situation involving the setup of a new desktop, with eight monitors and two table mount brackets. What do you do with the boxes, wire ties, books and other items? Clean up after yourself. When you leave a client's workstation, there should be no physical evidence that you were there in the first place. Trash should be discarded and installation items disposed of accordingly. In doing this, clients won't be inconvenienced with messy work space and will appreciate you for following through on your stellar service. 

Are you conducting Quarterly Business Review (QBR) meetings? Holding these check-ins helps you gauge how pleased a customer is with your MSP business. More importantly, QBRs should focus on how your proactive IT services can help clients meet business objectives and identify areas for improvement or tighter integration. Take this opportunity to position yourself as a strategic advisor in all matters of their operation. You might be surprised to discover how many non IT-related things you can help business owners with. Many MSPs rely on these regular meetings to demonstrate value, cross-sell and upsell and increase client retention.

All in all, service delivery starts with your process and your people. Ensure your whole team knows what your tools, policies and processes are to deliver ultimate service delivery and go the extra mile.